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Metro Pulse Searching for a Psychic Connection

Can two of Knoxville's psychics help find mental and spiritual well-being?

By Greg Siedschlag

JULY 26, 1999:  In a recent panic attack brought on by trying to finish editing my grandfather's autobiography, Fading Into Oblivion, I suffered a nervous breakdown of sorts—after staying up and writing for four consecutive nights at the command of the publisher. It was some time later when I woke up in a bleak, gray room, that I slowly pieced together what had transpired. After I had collected myself, I decided that I needed help beyond what a hospital could give me.

I had seen psychologists before; my fourth grade teacher, who was concerned about, among other things, a long series of crude political satires I had written about the upcoming 1988 presidential election, sent me to the school psychologist. When I told the school psychologist that one of his ink blots appeared to be two old ladies making love, my life took a long and agonizing detour that took me several years to recover from. Rather than become a dream case study for psychologists for the second time in my life, I decided that this time I would seek a more spiritual connection from a psychic.

Sure, I was skeptical—psychics seemed too superstitious and too far removed from the mainstream to really relate to "normal" people—but if they were actually "in tune" with a "higher being," they could certainly overcome this minor stumbling block. My quest for guidance manifested itself into a mission—that if I were to write an objective evaluation of these psychics, it could help countless other Knoxvillians with similar problems who are considering alternative sources of guidance.

Upon my release, I immediately sought out the most likely spots in town for psychics and psychic propaganda. I found right away that this is a group very concerned with establishing and maintaining credibility, and "advertising" of any kind can be damaging. Most rely primarily on word-of-mouth, and an outsider can have a difficult time finding contacts. However, a single trip to Bearden Hill's new age food emporium Nature's Pantry allowed me to speak to a helpful woman who referred me to Mr. Timothy Bosnyak, a psychic reader who has just moved to the area in the last few months.

I was not yet walking on stable ground, and the connection—however outdated it may be—between psychics and gypsies or other roving bandits had me a wee bit apprehensive about delving into this sub-culture. I feared that these gypsy psychics would operate in some obscure edge of this or some other county, and upon my entrance into their dimly-lit and poorly-ventilated lair they would pin me down and steal my wallet—which at any moment in time could contain upwards of five dollars in actual cash. I was surprised, and relieved, to find that Mr. Bosnyak is currently practicing out of the Spice Island Specialty Shop on Kenesaw Avenue in gypsy-unfriendly Sequoyah Hills on Wednesdays through Saturdays. As I got out of my car, I let my guard down a little bit and even decided after some hesitation to take my wallet with me.

Timothy, a dark man of strong build who looked to be in his late 30s, stood outside waiting for me, wearing free-flowing clothing and carrying a walking stick made of some kind of interwoven wood. As we walked in the shop, the scent of patchouli was the first thing that hit me. It's a quaint space that appeared to specialize in dresses, and Timothy worked at the front window. When we sat down it seemed as though neither one of us knew what to do. After some hesitation, we had a brief conversation in which he told me a bit about his background as a psychic reader in Florida. He went on to tell me that he didn't necessarily believe in telepathy, clairvoyance, and things of that nature, but instead preferred to view himself as a "spiritual advisor."

To begin the formal reading, Timothy put the palms of his hands out and told me to put my hands on top of his and contact "what you call God or your higher personal being." This, he told me, would protect me from uneasy feelings, insecurities, evil demons, and maybe even my old nemesis the bogey monster. Since, at this early junction in life, I have yet to find anything that I would call God or my higher personal being, I instead attempted to contact my cat Frisky. Frisky is now 15 human years old and has, among other physical atrocities, a runny nose, chronic drooling, a collapsed ear surrounded by busy ear mites, and phase six critically advanced catatosis, which is so grotesque that I would prefer not to go into it. I figured that any evil demon that would come within 10 feet of anyone who had even recently thought of Frisky would have to be pretty nutso.

After this peculiar rite, he got out a deck of tarot cards and told me to cut the deck three times. Timothy told me that this reading would tell me about my fate during the next 12 months. With the first three cards he told me about my career, which apparently shows vast promise. He told me that I would enjoy a promotion at my present place of employment, and a couple of days later a better offer from another company would come in the mail.

With the fifth card Timothy went on a chilling tangent. Out of the blue, he asked me if I knew anyone with a white car. I told him that I drove a white car. He asked me if my car had an engine problem. I told him it didn't, at least not that I was aware of. On the other hand, my 1993 Geo Metro does have a self-esteem problem, as does any car which would hardly be classified above "toy" on any kind of luxury evaluation. He told me to be careful with this car, get it looked at, and sell it as soon as possible. Coincidentally, I had often wondered if my car was the object of some kind of otherworldly prank; among other foreboding incidents, both inside door handles have suddenly and mysteriously snapped off in the last few months, casualties of nothing more than everyday use. True, this is likely due to faulty engineering, but then again, maybe engineers are just pawns in some kind of black magic conspiracy. Understandably, I took Timothy's advice to heart.

If he didn't have my attention before, he certainly did now. With the sixth card he delved into my love life, which has been in a coma for longer than I care to admit. Suddenly I was aglow with excitement. According to Timothy, I am destined to meet a brown-haired, brown-eyed woman who is soft-spoken, likes to sing, and is particularly interested in religious studies. We will become engaged within two years, marry, and have children. I began to wonder if I really was onto something at this point; I had registered for a fall semester religious studies class the previous day.

Despite the inhibitions I displayed at the beginning, and despite my maintenance of an almost impeccable poker-face throughout the reading, he went on to tell me of my very strong personality. Because of this strength of character, I am informed that there is "very little [I] cannot accomplish," because I am "extra-powerful." The remaining cards told more about my career, which has no limit in sight, and at some point I even become syndicated and very wealthy. I have yet to decide what I will do with all my "extra" power; perhaps I will ban toy cars or buy CNN and replace all the newscasters with drooling baby chimps.

I walked out of this surprisingly lengthy reading in a state of restrained ecstasy. My life as a syndicated columnist with the woman of my dreams and a toy car on the verge of self-destruction sounded as if it was everything I had ever dreamt of and more. But as I was driving to my next destination, I slowly floated down from this high fluffy cloud back onto a cold but sober earth, and I realized a couple of strange incongruities about the meeting I had just walked out of.

First, I was fairly sure that I had driven in front of the Spice Island shop before parking at the side of the building and walking around. Timothy, waiting outside, had a very good opportunity to spot this naive young journalist in a small-model, white toy car. Perhaps this explains his "notion" about the car.

Not taking his predictions into consideration, which currently have had only two weeks out of 12 months to materialize, Timothy is most always very good at picking up on one's personality traits. Most of his judgments could have rather easily been based on my appearance, behavior and mannerisms, age, and career orientation, but there were a few instances in which it would have taken extraordinary resourcefulness to base his insights on that information alone. He was never really wrong about anything. What he did with that relatively small amount of information may not have been phenomenal, but at the very least it was very intelligent and perceptive.

My next appointment landed me at the 195 Degrees coffee house in the Old City, where Kari Dee gives intuitive readings on Thursday through Saturday afternoons. Kari is also new to the area—she moved here in February—and the 40-ish redhead, who has been reading for 12 years, is one of an ever-shrinking number of Knoxvillians who seems perfectly content with her surroundings. Our introduction was much less awkward than the opening exchange with Timothy, and even the tricky cutting of the tarot deck went off without a hitch.

Kari used a different type of tarot deck than Timothy—there are more than 150 different decks in existence, she tells me—opting instead with what appeared to be a more standard deck that usually has pictures of people on the cards rather than just swords or snakes. Unlike Timothy, Kari avoids predicting the future and instead stays firmly grounded in analyzing one's current struggles.

The first card that came up during the reading was one of a child with several gold coins around him. This showed that I had found a niche in being child-like, and that this would bring me good things in life. I connected to this immediately because I have never been happier than I was early in childhood, and when I am having fun it is often doing something very childish, like playing with sock puppets or riding a 4-year-old's Big Wheel while pretending to be a robot. Later I began to notice parallels to the other meeting. Kari noted my strong willpower and my temperance, something that Timothy noted while he spoke of my tenacity, durability, and persistence. I was compelled to notice that in neither of these instances was the very easy link made to responsibility, a concept that oftentimes escapes or eludes me.

Kari's reading was more well-rounded than Timothy's, but also more vague. In dealing with the known world, the here-and-now rather than the unknown future, there is less opportunity to be specific about things. Whereas Timothy told me exactly how I would achieve success step by step throughout my career, Kari seemed more content to give me information and let me figure out how to utilize it. I most always agreed with what Kari deemed my character strengths, but I sometimes found it difficult to translate her words into something of tangible use. For instance, a tarot card depicting "The Sun" showed how I loved. This kind of overwhelmed me; I pictured myself beaming my burning rays down on thousands of beautiful women, with the streets of Knoxville suddenly looking like a scene from Godzilla, with women running and shrieking in terror in every direction.

I feel much better now than I did after my four-night write-a-thon, but do I owe any of my newfound peacefulness to either of the psychics? While I know a great deal more about the psychic realm—and have a good deal more respect for it—than I did before meeting with Timothy and Kari, I remain, on the whole, unconvinced. Although these visits were infinitely helpful for my ego, I found that a conversation with an insightful friend is usually more helpful in sorting out the uncertainties that surround my present and future life. And in the end, I'm not sure I was told anything about myself that I didn't already know—I may have been told some things that I had kind of forgotten, but nothing earth-shattering. Even though my "sun" may be buried underneath a heavy fog or cloud cover, it is still there, waiting to be rediscovered.

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